Flinders signs research deal with US Navy subs specialists

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Flinders University has inked a collaborative research agreement with a US Navy research centre specialising in submarine warfare. The institutions will team on research projects related to undersea technology in the Australian-first agreement, as the state looks to grow its AUKUS capabilities.

Flinders University and state Premier Peter Malinauskas on Monday announced the agreement with the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre (NUWC) Division, the US Navy’s full-spectrum research, and development support centre for submarine warfare systems.

It is the first agreement the NUWC has signed with an Australian university and comes ahead of planned construction and operation of the nuclear powered AUKUS fleet.

Premier Peter Malinauskas, Vice Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling and Deputy Premier Susan Close. Image: Flinders University

“Building ships and submarines in our state will deliver thousands of jobs at Osborne. But this endeavour is about more than cutting steel,” Premier Malinauskas said.

“This research partnership is exactly what we’re seeking — more highly educated South Australians doing more complicated and interesting work in a way that builds the overall complexity of our economy.”

NUWC is the United States Navy’s full-spectrum research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support centre for submarines, autonomous underwater systems. It includes offensive and defensive weapons systems associated with undersea warfare, and has research roots in the 19th Century.

Today it employs thousands of US government civilian staff and some military personnel, with an internal and program funding budget of US$1.5 billion. It holds around 65 Cooperative Research and Development Agreements with institutions around the world.

According to the announcement, the latest agreement with Flinders University commits the institutions to work together on research projects and initiatives related to undersea technology that will deliver new technologies and skilled workers.

However, no details have been disclosed about funding, exchanges or specific projects.

“Our partnership with NUWC Division Newport signifies a new era in undersea technology research, where the best minds from Australia and the United States will join forces to address critical challenges and opportunities,” Flinders University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said.

Over the weekend the state government also announced the South Australian Skills Commission has formally declared the Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) to be a trade under the South Australian Skills Act 2008.

It is the final step in the process of approving new apprenticeships that have been designed by university, employer groups and leading defence and technology firms.

Apprentices who successfully complete the studies will receive a degree qualification as well as a trade qualification as part of an apprenticeship, in an Australian-first also aimed at supporting AUKUS.

Next year the first intake of up to 30 apprentices will be paid to attend work and study at university, with on the job training provided.

Modelled on an established approach in the UK, the first test in Australia through the Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) is seen as a trial for a roll out to other courses like electrical and mechanical engineering.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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